My thinking has changed regarding food. Learning to transform thoughts like “There isn’t anything left to eat,” “I can’t eat anything that tastes good,” or “I’m not going to be able to go anywhere” has become crucial for the success of my migraine diet.
I came to this conclusion as I prepared to attend a gathering at my church last fall. For several years, I had attended a “tea” for the women of the church. A speaker provided much needed inspiration and encouragement, but I always found the meal to be particularly inspiring. Men from the church volunteered to serve, including bringing AND removing multiple courses. After 2 decades of doing the cooking, serving, and cleaning up for 3 meals a day, 7 days a week in my own home, this respite was absolutely refreshing! The first time I experienced this, I knew that it would be on my calendar every year.
So, you’re probably wondering, “What’s the problem?” Last fall, I had just eliminated many trigger foods in an attempt to get control of my migraines. I was just starting to feel better, which was encouraging me to continue with the diet changes. However, as the event approached, it occurred to me that there wouldn’t be any food served that I could eat. I considered not attending or going late to miss the meal but hear the speaker. Neither option appealed to me, because I enjoyed the fellowship with friends and inspiration from the speaker.
As these thoughts rolled around in my head, I realized that I was getting grumpy and cynical because of the impact that the new diet changes would have on my life. I had to change my thinking. Why was I planning to attend? It really wasn’t because of the food or the delightful experience of being served. It was the fellowship. I realized that food did not need to stand in the way of that. Admittedly, much of our culture revolves around food, but it doesn’t have to. I decided to attend, bring a light snack, politely decline the food while profusely thanking our server for his voluntary effort, and enjoy the conversation and message. So, I did. And you know what? I still enjoyed the event. I also discovered that there were 3 others in the room of 100 who were doing the same thing for various dietary reasons.
As I have worked through my diet changes, I have had several thoughts that have been particularly helpful. I remind myself of them when I realize that my thoughts might not be productive regarding my diet. I’m glad to share them with the hope that they will be encouraging to you as well.
- I eat to live, not live to eat. This is the conclusion I came to at the “tea.” I enjoyed the activity even though I didn’t have the food. Being able to participate in and enjoy life events is something that I can do if I am eating in a way that is healthy for me. If I’m eating trigger foods, I’m so miserable that I can’t enjoy an event if I am even able to attend.
- Unlike several of my other migraine triggers (fragrances, weather, and bright lights), I can control what I eat.
- When I’m craving a trigger food that I really want, I remember that the pain just isn’t worth it.
- Foods that are commonly regarded as “healthy” may be so for many people, but not for me.
- God has provided plenty of other healthy foods. I can break out of my food paradigms and try new things (Chicken Tacos with Mango Salsa, Flax and Quinoa Crackers, Blueberry Pancakes made without wheat, eggs, or dairy). In fact, I am finding that I am eating a greater variety than I was before I changed my diet!
- I have been able to eat small amounts of some of my trigger foods because I have completely eliminated so many others. For instance, I really need to be able to cook with broth, but every one that I can find contains onions. However, the broth I use doesn’t contain any other triggers. By using it, I am able to cook so many recipes. I wouldn’t be able to do this if more of my trigger foods were still in my diet.
- A migraine diet doesn’t have to be bland. I can use herbs and spices to replace what I have had to eliminate.
- When I am trying to re-work a recipe, I keep in mind that the dish doesn’t have to taste just like (fill in the blank). It just has to taste good! (Spinach and Rice, Ketchup).